The Best Whey Protein Powders For Taste, Muscle Growth, and More

We tried dozens of whey protein powders to find the best for your needs.

Expert Verified By: Hennis Tung, MS, RD
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With the click of a mouse, you can order any protein powder, and it’ll arrive at your doorstep in a matter of days. This is great news for you since protein is an essential macronutrient that repairs muscle tissue to help you gain strength, keeps you satiated, and balances your hormones. And boy, are people clicking their mouses.

In 2018, the global whey protein powder market was valued at $7.4 billion. Whey protein may be flying off of the shelves, that’s for sure. But what isn’t always certain is which brand you should buy. There is a seemingly endless number of protein powder options, but some may not be suited for your goals or lifestyle. Fear not, though. We’ve tested out dozens of protein powder supplements, from the biggest sellers to the little-known underdogs, and developed this list to help you find the best whey protein that meets your needs.

The Best Whey Protein Powders

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for the diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. 

Best Whey Protein Powders Video

You can also check out this video from BarBend, where former Nutrition Editor Nick English goes over a variety of protein powders and their benefits. 

[Related: 9 Types of Diets — How They Work and Pros & Cons]

Best Whey Protein Overall

A solid whey protein will have a balanced formula that offers a high dose of protein with minimal fat and a low dose of carbs — this pick is just that.

Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

A lot of whey protein powders offer high doses of protein while keeping fats and carbs to a minimum. In that regard, Micropure isn’t unique. However, Kaged Muscle produces their protein using an enzyme called ProHydrolase®, which helps to break the protein down into small particles, which can lead to enhanced absorption and digestion. As a bonus, it also comes in seven delicious flavors — Vanilla, Chocolate, Cinnamon French Toast, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Coffee Latte, S’mores, and Natural Cinnamon Roll.

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Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

Kaged Muscle's whey protein isolate formula boasts a high 25 grams of protein, one gram of fat, and just four grams of carbs. It also contains an enzyme that breaks down the protein for optimal digestion.

Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Folks who digest protein more easily when they supplement with digestive enzymes will like this product’s ProHydrolase. 
  • Anyone who likes flavor options — this product has seven. 
  • Athletes who want the most amount of protein with minimal fat and carbs — this whey isolate provides just that. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Budget-conscious shoppers. Isolate formulas in general are more expensive than concentrate, and this protein is no different. 
  • People who need more carbs or fats to supplement hard training sessions will want to opt for a whey concentrate. 

This high-protein, low-fat formula delivers pure protein that digests in a flash, making it perfect for folks who have trouble processing protein powders.

Best Whey Protein for Men

For men who are looking to pack on some muscle in the gym, protein content is key. This product is a great pick for both protein, and for guys who want to avoid artificial ingredients.

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate contains 88 percent protein-by-weight, which is one of the highest protein contents on the market. In addition to its 28 grams of protein per scoop, this whey isolate also contains only half a gram of fat, one gram of carbs, and under a gram of sugar. It comes in seven flavors — Chocolate Peanut Butter, Milk Chocolate, Vanilla, Cereal Splash, Strawberry, Salted Caramel, and Cinnamon Pastry. It is one of the pricier options due to its high protein content and quality grass-fed whey isolate. 

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Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

This transparent ingredient list includes a dose of calcium, iron, and potassium with 28 grams of protein, all from a company that goes out of its way to provide clear sourcing.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

  • Men looking for a whey isolate powder with a high protein-by-weight that may help with muscle gains. 
  • Athletes trying to cut back on their sugar intake — there’s no added sugar in this product. 
  • Anyone who wants a variety of flavors to choose from — this one has seven. 

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

  • Athletes who don’t love the taste of naturally flavored whey may want to steer clear. 
  • Anyone who’s trying to pack on a few extra pounds — each scoop of this powder only contains 120 calories. 

For men who are trying to round out their diets and gain some muscle, Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is a great way to get 28 grams of very, very natural protein.

Best Whey Protein for Women

Though this protein powder is marketed toward women, it’s actually a solid choice for anyone on the hunt for a great whey protein with desirable macros. Low in fat, carbs, and sugars, but high in protein, this supplement is our top pick for women.

Cira Bright Whey

At just 120 calories, Cira Bright Whey packs 25 grams of protein (a blend of whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate) into each scoop. It contains only one and a half grams of fat, two grams of carbs, and 1 gram of sugar. It does include natural and artificial flavors and sweeteners, so if you’re trying to stay away from those ingredients, this pick may not be for you, but it does come in two really tasty flavors: Cinnamon Swirl and Cookies & Cream. 

Cira Bright Whey
Cira Bright Whey
Cira Bright Whey

Cira targets female consumers specifically, but this protein powder is great for anyone who wants a tasty blend that’s low in calories and carbs. Bright Whey comes in two great flavors — Cinnamon Swirl and Cookies ‘N Cream.

Who Should Buy Cira Bright Whey

  • Women who are looking for a lower calorie whey protein with very few carbs, fats, and sugars will appreciate the macros in this formula. 
  • Customers who are interested in more unique flavors like Cinnamon Swirl and Cookies & Cream instead of the basic chocolate and vanilla. 

Who Should Buy Cira Bright Whey

  • Folks who are trying to bulk up may want a higher calorie protein supplement that contains more carbs. 
  • Buyers who are looking for more traditional chocolate and vanilla flavors — which are great to blend into smoothies or coffee for a boost of protein.
  • Athletes who aren’t interested in a blend of proteins; this pick is made of a blend of whey concentrate and whey isolate. 

Though this supplement is a solid choice for anyone looking for a whey protein, it’s marketed specifically to women. It’s lower in calories, fat, sugar, and carbs than many whey proteins, and the flavors are a nice change from the sea of chocolate and vanilla.

Best Whey Protein for Muscle Gain

It’s no secret that protein can play a key role in muscle gains. This pick is a whey protein isolate, which means it has a high protein content and also one of the highest doses of protein on this list.

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

Sourced from 100 percent grass-fed American cows, Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate packs 28 grams of protein into each scoop. At 88 percent protein-by-weight, it also has one of the highest protein-by-weight ratios on this list. Clean of artificial sweeteners, food dyes, gluten, and preservatives, this whey isolate also contains only half a gram of fat, a single gram of carbs, and no added sugars. It comes in seven flavors and you can buy up to three tubs at once for a discounted rate.

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Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

This transparent ingredient list includes a dose of calcium, iron, and potassium with 28 grams of protein, all from a company that goes out of its way to provide clear sourcing.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

  • Bodybuilders looking to pack on muscle. This isolated whey ensures you’re getting just protein and essentially no other macros. It’s the equivalent of eating a four-ounce chicken breast, except it’s more convenient for when you’re in a pinch.
  • Customers who are wary of artificial sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives — this pick is free of all three. 
  • Anyone who wants a variety of flavors to choose from will like that this product comes in seven flavors. 
  • Folks who are looking to buy their protein powder in bulk — you can buy up to three tubs at once for a discounted rate. 

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

  • Athletes who want a higher calorie or carb content to potentially help pack on more weight, or for more energy during tough training sessions.
  • If you’re not concerned with protein-by-weight, there are less expensive whey concentrates you can buy instead to save some cash. 

Whey protein isolate is one of the best options to potentially help with muscle gain because of its high protein content — just be aware that you may have to dish out a little extra money for it. 

Best Whey Protein Isolate

Whey isolate is a form of whey protein that has been filtered to reduce its lactose and fat content, leaving around 90 percent protein content behind. This whey protein packs a lot of protein, tends to be more easily digested, and contains no fat, sugar, or carbs.

Xwerks Grow

Xwerks Grow has 25 grams of protein, and no lactose, carbs, fats, or sugars. While most whey isolates contain very low doses of those ingredients, it’s rare that an isolate pulls zeros for all four. This powder also packs a solid 21 percent of the recommended intake of calcium. Sourced from 100 percent New Zealand grass-fed whey, this pick contains six grams of BCAAs per serving, which may help build muscle and aid in recovery. Xwerks Grow is also free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, or coloring, and comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, Peanut Butter, and Strawberry. 

Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow

One of the very few protein powders with no carbs or fat whatsoever, this product contains 25 grams of whey protein isolate and is great for anyone looking for a leaner protein option.

Who Should Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Athletes who prefer a whey isolate protein powder over whey protein or hydrolyzed whey. 
  • If you’re looking for vitamins and minerals in your protein powder, this blend may help balance out your nutrient intake.
  • Folks who value having BCAAs in their protein powder, which may aid muscle retention and muscle recovery.

Who Should Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Those who want a higher dose of carbs, fats, or sugars in their protein powder — this powder contains none of the above. 
  • Vegans who want a powder that isn’t derived from animal products will want to look for a vegan-friendly protein powder.

While most whey protein isolates contain low doses of carbs, fats, and sugars, Xwerks Grow doesn’t contain any of these macros. It also packs 25 grams of protein and a nice boost of calcium — with no artificial ingredients to be seen.

Best Whey for Weight Loss

Whey isolate is a popular pick among people looking to lose weight as it’s high in protein and low in fat, carbs, and sugars — meaning the overall calories are low.

Disclaimer: Please note that none of these products describe themselves as weight loss supplements and should not be taken as such. Please consult with a medical professional before beginning any weight loss protocol.

Xwerks Grow

Because of its ingredient profile, Xwerks Grow was our favorite protein for weight loss. It’s very low in calories, offering just 110 calories, 25 grams of protein, no fat, no carbs, and no sugar. Though low in calories, this product still has over 20 percent of your daily calcium intake, which is important for bone health and possibly fat loss. On top of that, this mixture dissolves easily in water without any clumping, and has no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. 

Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow

One of the very few protein powders with no carbs or fat whatsoever, this product contains 25 grams of whey protein isolate and is great for anyone looking for a leaner protein option.

Who Should Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Anyone trying to lose weight who may want a protein powder lower in calories — this one only has 110. 
  • People who want a protein powder with extra calcium — this is twice as much per scoop than you typically get in a whey.
  • Athletes who prioritize a powder that dissolves easily, leaving no clumps behind. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Customers who want a protein powder with more carbs, fats, and calories to supplement their diet — this one is low in all three. 
  • Folks who prefer the stronger flavors you can get from artificial ingredients.

Your caloric intake will always dictate which way the scale tips, but this protein may also help curb hunger, so you’re less likely to indulge in unnecessary calories. 

Best Tasting Whey Protein

Sometimes all you’re looking for in a protein supplement is a great taste that will keep you hooked for a while. This pick has not just one but six great flavors to choose from. 

Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

When you’re trying to sneak more protein into your diet, it’s important that the vehicle for the protein tastes good. Micropure Whey Protein Isolate is one of the best tasting whey proteins we have tried. It comes in six different flavors — Coffee Latte, Cinnamon French Toast, Chocolate Peanut Butter, S’mores, Chocolate, and Vanilla. Macros vary based on the flavor, but you’re looking at some one gram of fat and four to six grams of carbs, all while packing 25 grams of protein. Plus, it’s more easily absorbed than many other whey protein powders because of Micropure’s ProHydrolase® Digestive Enzyme Technology, which is a digestive (proteolytic) enzyme blend that helps break down the protein from the powder for your body to use. 

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Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

Kaged Muscle's whey protein isolate formula boasts a high 25 grams of protein, one gram of fat, and just four grams of carbs. It also contains an enzyme that breaks down the protein for optimal digestion.

Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Customers who want a great tasting protein powder with a variety of flavors to choose from. 
  • Athletes who want a pure whey protein isolate that contains a higher protein content than whey concentrate or a whey blend. 
  • If you prioritize digestion, you’ll appreciate this protein supplement’s digestive enzymes. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Anyone who is avoiding gums — there are three kinds in this product.
  • Those who prefer a whey concentrate — this product is derived from 100 percent whey isolate. 

Though this product does pack 25 grams of protein and a dose of digestive enzymes into its whey isolate mixture, it made this list because of its great flavor — any of the six flavors offered are sure to hit the spot.

Best Grass-Fed Whey Protein

If you’re on the hunt for a protein that’s derived from 100 percent grass-fed whey, this pick has you covered. 

Xwerks Grow

Xwerks Grow is made from 100 percent New Zealand grass-fed whey protein isolate. The grass-fed cows graze throughout the countryside of New Zealand, which is one of the strictest countries in the world for dairy quality — all of this to say, you won’t find any hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides lingering in your protein powder. In addition, this product contains 25 grams of protein, no carbs, sugars or fats, plus twice the calcium of a typical whey. This powder also comes in four tasty flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, Peanut Butter, and Strawberry. 

Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow
Xwerks Grow

One of the very few protein powders with no carbs or fat whatsoever, this product contains 25 grams of whey protein isolate and is great for anyone looking for a leaner protein option.

Who Should Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Customers who prioritize whey protein isolate derived from grass-fed dairy will like this blend. 
  • Athletes who are trying to limit their carb, sugar, or fat intake — this product doesn’t contain any of these ingredients. 
  • Folks who want an added dose of calcium in their protein powder. 

Who Should Buy Xwerks Grow

  • Athletes who are trying to gain weight and may want a protein powder with a higher calorie or carb count. 
  • Anyone who wants a straight protein supplement, and doesn’t care about having added vitamins and minerals. 
  • People who prefer to have a digestive enzyme blend in their protein powder. 

This grass-fed whey isolate is not only chock-full of calcium, but it’s also one of few protein powders that contain zero carbs, sugars, or fats — it’s a solid pick for anyone looking for a lean, antibiotic- and hormone-free protein powder. 

Best Organic Whey Protein

Ingredient-conscious folks will most likely prefer a protein powder that’s derived from natural ingredients and free of artificial flavorings. Since it’s quite difficult to find a fully organic whey protein, this plant-based pick is a great organic option, and a solid protein powder in general that’s very similar to whey.

Kaged Plantein

Since it’s often difficult to find a whey protein certified as organic, Kaged Plantein is a solid plant-based alternative that is totally organic. This vegan protein is made from pea protein isolate primarily, which is easier for some people to stomach compared to dairy-based whey and whey isolate. Kaged Muscle’s formula is naturally flavored — and contains zero sugar — and is free of soy, dairy, lactose, and gluten. For a more robust mouth feel, Plantain is thickened with Coconut MCT Oil. Each 37.5-gram serving delivers 26 grams of protein, four grams of fat, and five grams of carbohydrates. 

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Kaged Muscle Plantein
Kaged Muscle Plantein
Kaged Muscle Plantein

This plant-based formula is made from pea protein and boasts a macronutrient profile similar to whey — 26 grams of protein, four grams of carbs, and five grams of fat. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off your purchase. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Plantein

  • People who care about eating organic foods. Plantein is made from ingredients such as pea protein and quinoa, and is free of artificial flavors. 
  • Those who eat a lot of protein. One serving of Kaged Muscle Plantein provides 26 grams of protein. 
  • Plant-based eaters will like that Kaged Muscle’s formula is 100 percent vegan. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Plantein

  • Anyone who doesn’t particularly care about eating an organic diet. Typically, the “organic” label can increase the price of the product.
  • Lifters who want an actual whey protein — this pick is organic, but it’s plant-based. 
  • People who prefer more basic protein flavors such as vanilla or chocolate. Plantein comes in Peanut Butter Cookie, Banana Bread, and Cinnamon Roll.

Kaged Muscle’s Plantein is an organic formula free of soy, dairy, gluten, and artificial flavorings. It packs a lot of protein, comes in three tasty flavors, and will satisfy anyone who wants a natural product. 

Best Whey Protein Meal Replacement

If you want a whey protein with plenty of additional micronutrients to help nourish you, this product is going to be a great fit.

Kaged Clean Meal

Whey protein is great for folks who want just protein and nothing else, but it’s not the most filling or nutritious option. If you’re on the hunt for a protein that offers more carbs and fats for muscle recovery, or a formula that can replace a standard meal, then this pick is your best bet. Depending on if you take two or three scoops, Clean Meal delivers either 270 or 360 calories, respectively. For three scoops, you get 42 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs, and seven grams of fat. It also contains 21 vitamins and minerals and is made with real whole foods, like quinoa and oats. 

KAGED Muscle Clean Meal
KAGED Muscle Clean Meal
KAGED Muscle Clean Meal

When you're on the go or trying to slam calories, Clean Meal boasts either 270 or 360 calories-worth of nutrition with balanced macros from whole food ingredients. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off your purchase. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Clean Meal

  • Anyone who wants a protein powder that can replace an entire meal. 
  • Athletes who need more calories and carbs overall to recover from tough workouts. 
  • If you’re always on the go and need an easy-to-consume meal to take with you, this meal replacement is the way to go.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Clean Meal

  • People who use protein purely as a supplement and prefer to eat their carbs and fats.
  • Anyone who doesn’t want to drink their calories will want to look for a protein bar.
  • Lifters on a cut. You’re only allowed so many calories, and meal replacement drinks, though filling, aren’t as satisfying as regular foods. 

You want your meal replacement powder to maintain a balanced macro profile that simply scales along with the calorie count. Clean Meal does, and, better yet, it’s formulated from whole food sources like oats and quinoa. 

Best Sustainably-Sourced Whey Protein

Legion contains effective and transparently sourced ingredients, is free of potentially harmful fillers, and delivers on taste.

Legion Whey+ Protein 

Legion Whey+ contains zero artificial flavors and sweeteners, is GMO- and lactose-free, and is made of 100 percent grass-fed whey protein isolate from sustainable dairy farms in Ireland. It’s also higher in calcium compared to other protein isolate powders. We like that Legion Whey+ mixes well in water and milk. It comes in various flavors: Salted Caramel, Mocha Cappuccino, Cinnamon Cereal, and Mint Chocolate, in addition to the normal variations of chocolate and vanilla you’ll often see from manufacturers. However, if you want to avoid soy or maltodextrin, then look elsewhere; this protein powder contains both of those ingredients. 

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Legion Whey+
Legion Whey+
Legion Whey+

An all natural, non-GMO, fat-free whey that's cheaper than many competitors, Legion Whey+ is made from 100 percent grass-fed whey protein isolate from sustainable dairy farms in Ireland. It's also higher in calcium compared to other powders on the market.

Who Should Buy Legion Whey+

  • People who want an all-natural whey protein without sacrificing flavor or variety of flavors.
  • Athletes on the go who want a smooth-mixing protein powder will appreciate how easily this powder mixes with water. 
  • People who care about the welfare of the animals that provide their protein. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Whey+

  • People who want to avoid maltodextrin at all costs. This is a common additive in many whey proteins to help with flavor, and Legion’s Whey+ does contain some. 
  • If you’re avoiding seed oils at all cost, you may want to look elsewhere. Whey+ contains a tiny amount of sunflower oil to help with flavor. 

For people who are environmentally-minded, Legion+ Whey ensures that their whey is sourced sustainably from American cows, with a protein-by-weight ratio of 88 percent. 

Related: Read our full review on Legion Whey+ Protein

Best Non-Whey Protein for Vegans

Whey protein is the industry standard for protein supplementation, but whey also isn’t vegan-friendly as it’s a byproduct of making dairy products like milk and cheese. Others may want to avoid whey due to potential spoilage (though this is rare if the right storage conditions are met) or unappealing smells or tastes. 

Kaged Muscle Plantein

Kaged Muscle’s plant-based protein is made from peas and organic quinoa and packs 2.4 grams of BCAAs and 2.1 grams of leucine. Compared to other vegan protein powders, Plantein is pretty low in fats and carbs, boasting only four and five grams, respectively. While those numbers are a tad high compared to whey protein isolate formulas, they’re pretty low for a plant-based powder. You can buy this protein in three flavors — Peanut Butter Cookie, Banana Bread, and Cinnamon Roll — but it’s only available in 15-serving containers. 

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Kaged Muscle Plantein
Kaged Muscle Plantein
Kaged Muscle Plantein

This plant-based formula is made from pea protein and boasts a macronutrient profile similar to whey — 26 grams of protein, four grams of carbs, and five grams of fat. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off your purchase. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle Plantein

  • Plant-based eaters who want a vegan formula as this product is made with a pea protein blend. 
  • Anyone who wants a vegan protein that closely resembles the macronutrient makeup of a whey protein powder.
  • If you like knowing everything that goes into your protein powder, you’ll like this product’s transparent ingredient label.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle Plantein

  • Anyone who wants a whey formula — this formula is made from plant-based protein.
  • Folks who like flavors like chocolate or vanilla. This formula doesn’t have those basic choices.
  • People who like to buy in bulk. Kaged only packages 15 servings at a time. 

It’s not uncommon for plant-based proteins to be higher in carbs and fats (due to the source ingredients), but Kaged Muscle’s macro profile is as close to whey as any plant-based protein we’ve seen. 

Best Whey Protein for Weight Gain

The best whey protein for gaining weight is a mass gainer that contains whey. You’ll get more calories, and protein per serving, allowing you to bulk up without having to chew through yet another chicken breast. 

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

If you’re looking to bulk up, and maybe can’t stomach another bite of food with your current macros, then you’ll appreciate the 750 calories per scoop that Transparent Labs Mass Gainer delivers. Each two-scoop serving (196.7 grams) provides 53 grams of protein, 114 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of fat. The whey comes from grass-fed cows, and the carb sources include organic tapioca, oats, and sweet potatoes. Instead of sugar, Transparent Labs sweetens their product with stevia and monk fruit. 

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Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

With nothing artificial, whey from New Zealand, a good amount of fiber, and little sugar, this mass gainer will satisfy most athletes. It's a clean mass gainer that focuses on simplicity over added bells and whistles.